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Some of the numbers in the above list are still, no doubt, a good deal too high; but I believe the strength in the majority of the institutions is not at all disproportioned to the active work done. If this regulating principle-of hands proportioned to work—is kept in view, there seems no reason why such religious establishments should not only be permitted but even encouraged, and this no less in the Protestant than the Catholic Church. The Catholics, indeed, seem to doubt whether there is sufficient earnestness and definiteness of belief among Protestants to originate or perpetuate among them such devoted communities; but surely the Reformed Church will not submit to an imputation which goes to the root of the superiority they claim over the Catholics.
As strikingly illustrative of the principles and practice adopted, and of the sentiments and feelings entertained by the inmates of these modern Nunneries, I cannot here refrain from quoting a portion of a letter lately addressed to an old friend, by a lady now a Nun in one of the Convents of the Sacred Heart above mentioned :
“I think you know that if I gave the best part of my life to education, it was, if not from enthusiasm, at least with it, and had not the Society of the Sacred Heart been devoted to that object, I should never have joined it. Not only the fact of the Society embracing all classes, from the palace to the cottage, nay, to the houseless orphan, but the
admirable method used in carrying it out, won my heart, and every day I may say I find my anticipations out-stripped. No house of ours can be without pupils, of as many of these classes as we have hands to cultivate, say, in general, four, viz., young ladies, day-scholars, (of the middle classes generally,) poor children, and orphans. These last are boarders, taken for nothing, if the house can afford it, or, at least, for the barest needful for food and clothing. Our rule for education is to give the best that can be given, keeping in view the modesty proper to our sex, balanced with the ever-increasing exigencies of the age. Accomplishments are usually taught by masters, under our constant surveillance of course. The course of studies comprise, besides the founding branches of reading, writing, history, geography, globes, arithmetic, style and composition, &c.; foreign languages, taught by natives, an easy matter for us who are of many lands,) mineralogy, botany, zoology, in the regular classes, and these extended and detailed, joined to natural philosophy, geology, logic, and even a little chemistry, in what is called the superior class. You will perceive that we must begin with good health, good spirits, good talents, and good education ; but all this does not suffice, we must be good students too, and even in the daily routine we must prepare our classes, poor little women as we are, neither more nor less than any professor of your colleges. To explain to you our system, (contained in a little code, binding both mistresses and children) would require more time than I can now spare.
It will suffice to say, that reward is ever preferred to punishment; indeed, were a pupil only sensible to the latter, her parents not only would be apprised of the fact, but we would request them and this is no rare event) to prefer another convent. Need I say, that a higher principle than the diffusion of knowledge actuates us ? We believe that man's mind was made to know God, and his heart to love him, his whole being given to serye him ; we believe, too, that cultivating the mind to the fullest rational extent, opening the kindly feelings, training the young heart, and ever imparting accomplishments that will prevent idleness and worse, –all will render these dear children more capable of rising to the knowledge and love of their Creator and Heavenly Father, putting them in the way, each according to the duties of her sphere of life, of acquiring and imparting the largest portion of happiness here, and hereafter of receiving a higher reward and enjoying greater bliss ; not to say, that we believe and hope many by our means will avoid, through God's blessing and the merits of his Son, an opposite lot in eternity."
In the poorer quarters of the towns of Ballina and Ardnaree, and in the fishing village and cottages near the quay, I found the poor people's cabins very little better than those I have formerly noticed. They were perhaps a shade cleaner, and had a sprinkling more of furniture ; but still they were much below the standard of even the humblest comfort, and altogether incompatible with what reason would indicate as the abodes of men able and willing to work, in a civilized land, and at the present stage of man's progress.
Beside the rent for the cottages, the poorest people seem to pay county cess, to the amount of 6d., 7d., or 9d. yearly. A small house in the town, the inhabitant's own property, and valued at 21. per annum, paid 4s. 3d. rates, and 2s. 10d. cess.
The same man rented a small portion of land, for which he paid 41. yearly rent, the landlord paying all the public charges. The general amount of poor-rate in Ballina last year was 3s. 4d. in the pound per rate—that is, 6s. 8d.
it is nearly the same, namely, 3s. 6d. per half-year's rate. In the year 1847, the rate was as high as 7s. 6d.—that is, 158. in the pound. The county cess is paid by every one who rents a house valued at ll. annual rental.
From the remarkable decrease of population in these towns shown above (nearly one fourth part), it cannot be doubted that the emigration from them has been very great, though only 202 persons are mentioned in the official returns as having sailed from this harbour in 1850, their destination being Canada. The most intelligent persons in this place are of opinion that emigration has gone quite far enough in reducing the proportion of population to the exigencies of labour—that is to say, if labour were really sought for according to the wants and not according to the remunerative powers of the country.
The system of consolidation of farms has been carried to a considerable extent in the vicinity of Ballina. One proprietor has dispossessed all the cottagers, except about six, over a tract of 1500 acres; but, like Lord Lucan, he has not yet obtained tenants for the large farms thus created. In some places, the few small farmers who have remained in the country have done well, by obtaining land at a very low rate, and grazing cattle on it. Having no outlay but in the purchase of the cattle, they suffer little or nò injury from having a mere holding from year to year, while the landlords are willing to accept almost a nominal rental until they obtain such tenants as they require.
In this neighbourhood, as elsewhere, the corn crops are excellent, better than for years before. Even the partial failure of the potatoes will not be greatly felt, as a much greater quantity than usual had been planted, almost as if to provide against the failure. But the failure of the crop has been actually less here than in any place previously visited by us; and the same result has been found to extend all over the country as far as Sligo.
From what I could learn, house-rent, and also the rent of land, was moderate in the town and